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What is Navajo Tea?

September 21, 2017

This week in herbal teas you should try: Navajo Tea.

An herbal beverage made by the Navajo Native Americans for generations, Navajo tea is made by brewing the plant greenthread, known by its scientific name as Thelesperma.

thelesperma plant

A Thelesperma plant | by Andrey Zharkikh | Creative Commons 2.0

A member of the Aster family, Thelesperma is a perennial bulb that blooms a yellow flower from May to September. It can be found growing in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Canada:

thelesperma plant map

Where you can find Thelesperma growing, in green | USDA

To make tea from this herb, the Navajo traditionally pluck the herb by its stem, keeping the roots intact and shaking the plant so that its seeds return to the soil and the lifecycle continues. The plucked herbs are rinsed and dried for 1 to 2 days, then boiled in hot water. Enjoyed hot or iced, Navajo tea is known for its earthy, mild flavor, which some choose to sweeten by adding sugar or honey.

The Navajo have used Navajo Tea medicinally for centuries, turning to the brew to alleviate joint pain, calm upset stomachs, and promote healthy kidney function. Modern research shows why this may have had success over the years: Thelesperma contains the flavonoid Luteolin, which boasts natural anti-inflammatory properties.

If you visit the Navajo Nation today, you will find Native Americans drinking Navajo Tea, using the beverage as a way to connect with their roots.

Some Navajo have made the tea available for commercial consumption:

100% Navajo-owned and operated company Yanabah sells Navajo Tea out of its Arizona headquarters. All the Navajo Tea comes from plants growing on the Cuska Mountains in Arizona, where it’s picked, dried, and packaged into three varieties:

yanabah navajo teaTraditional

Navajo Tea & Mint

Navajo Tea & Green Tea

Each box contains 20 tea-bags of caffeine-free tea and costs $6.

For every sale Yanabah makes, a portion goes toward the Navajo National Scholarship Fund, which supports Navajo students working toward a college degree.

The Navajo Nation is the largest reservation for indigenous people in the United States. Covering 24,000 square miles over parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, the Navajo Nation is home to over 200,000 individuals.

navajo nation territory

The Navajo Nation covers territory in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. | By Fred the Oyster, Creative Commons 3.0

navajo nation flag

The Navajo Nation flag | Public Domain

The Navajo are known for their pottery, jewelry, and weaving, and tea is now joining the list of Navajo products exported beyond the reservation. With a high unemployment rate and over half the Navajo population living below the poverty line, businesses like Yanabah are part of what The Economist described as “capitalism’s last frontier” and, as Indian Country Today reports, an important way for the Navajo to trade dependence on the US government for economic independence.

A new herbal tea to try and a great way to support the Navajo economy? We’re in!

Herbal Tea

Trend Watch: Turmeric Tea

April 20, 2017

Turmeric was everywhere at the Natural Products Expo West this March in Anaheim, California, as reported by World Tea News. In fact, the number of products that contained turmeric at the expo rose 34% between 2014 and 2016, and 2017’s expo displayed the root’s staying power. The rise of turmeric may be traced back to the public’s increasing knowledge of its health benefits: per WebMD, because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, may decrease inflammation, the herb is used to treat ailments such as IBS, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, and gum disease.  Modern medical uses of turmeric build on thousands of years in which the spice played an important role in ancient healthcare.  Today, turmeric is a power player in there herbal tea market. It’s often combined with ginger thanks to the herbs’ complementary flavors and shared health benefits.  If you’re ready to get your turmeric on, here are some teas that incorporate turmeric to get you started:

1) Turmeric with Meadowsweet & Ginger

Turmeric with Meadowsweet & Ginger

This tea from Traditional Medicines, a “wellness teas” purveyor, promotes healthy digestion and curbs post-exercise inflammation with a tasty combination of turmeric, meadowsweet, and ginger. The company worked to create a formula that first targets the gut, and then moves on alleviate pain that results from strenuous activity. Traditional Medicines believes that this tea combines “herbal wisdom” with “soothing relief.”  Try this caffeine-free herbal tea and be your own judge.

2) Turmeric Mango Tea

Turmeric Mango Tea

The ancient spice gets a sweet bedfellow in this mashup from Rishi. Sri Lankan mangoes star alongside turmeric in this tropical loose leaf tea, with supporting flavor from pineapple, ginger, green tea, jasmine, yuzu, and essential kaffir lime oil. Rishi recommends brewing this hand-blended tea for five to six minutes.

Rishi also makes a tempting Turmeric Chai that unites turmeric with traditional chai spices, coconut, vanilla bean, and sarsaparilla for a strong, exotic, and creamy cuppa.

3) Turmeric Green TeaTurmeric Green Tea

This tea from Pukka combines green tea and turmeric with cardamom, licorice, and lemon for a tea that the company promises will “leave you feeling renewed as each cup lets you don turmeric’s shield.” That protective shield “sustains life’s majestic glow,” says the tea maker. This tea is organic, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and even FairWild (aka sustainably harvested and fair traded).

4) Dandelion Turmeric Tea

Dandelion Turmeric Tea

This tea from Teeccino is a potent mixture of turmeric and roasted dandelion. Ginger, chicory, and licorice are along for the flavorful ride as well. Add milk for a cuppa that arches toward chai. This product is gluten-free and barley-free, contains no caffeine, and boasts antioxidants and natural sources of insulin and potassium. Plus, it comes in both loose leaf and tea bags.

5) Amber Sun Rooibos Turmeric Tea

Amber Sun Rooibos Turmeric Tea

This tea from Numi Organic Tea is smooth and rich, blending turmeric and rooibos with honebush, cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla bean for an herbal celebration. Numi recommends a longer steeping time for this tea—8 to 10 minutes. This caffeine-free tea boasts tasting notes of “mellow apple” and “sweet peppery zest” according to Numi.  The tea company has many other turmeric products, including turmeric chai and turmeric cocoa.